Featured Profiles of Resilience

These are our highlighted profiles of resilience. Here you will find profiles on ballet dancers such as Lauren Anderson of Houston Ballet, Ingrid Silva of Dance Theatre of Harlem and even Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theatre. We hope you’ve come hungry and you leave inspired.

– Project Resilience


Danielle Wallace

“The shortest answer I can give is, a lot! The most honest answer I can give, however, has nothing to do with the types of struggles most minority dancers face. My struggles, although inclusive of, are not limited to: discrimination, financial distress, exhaustion, broken bones, etc. In 2009, I was diagnosed with a rapidly growing brain tumor. After many tests, medications and an inevitable surgery, I was told I would never dance again. Today, in 2015, I am proud to say that my dance resume is rather extensive and includes the fact that I am currently still performing as a member of the Jeffrey and the Artist modern dance company, as well as a dance instructor.”

Follow Danielle on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/d_lanice 

Daphne Lee

Daphne Lee

“I have had to endure a lot when it came to getting casted as a dancer. In the studio, I was too busy fighting for the choreographers attention, or frustrated that I couldn’t quite grasp the movement quality as my fellow co-workers. Watching myself and others helped me to find my own uniqueness. Companies like Collage Dance and Oakland Ballet helped me to play with choreography, learn to move through movement and extend through my lines to get the choreography across to audiences in an enhanced, artistic and professional way.”

A local artist from Rahway, NJ, Daphne Lee trained at Rahway Dance Theatre under the direction of Jay Skeete-Lee.  She has studied at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jacobs Pillow, and Boston Ballet all on scholarship, and graduated with honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program in dance where she was the recipient of the Denise Jefferson Scholarship.  Upon graduating, she was taken into the prestigious Ailey II where she danced the works of Robert Battle, Benoit Swan-Pouffer, and Amy Hall-Gardner.  Daphne was featured in the opening video to Beyonce’s Mrs. Carter World Tour and was a cast member on the webisode Dance 212. She is currently with Listig Dance Theatre and had guested with Collage Dance Collective and Oakland Ballet Company.

You can follow Daphne on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/Daphne732

Chorographer Tristan Andrews photos by DBeltonjr

Tristan Andrews

“There’s no better feeling than working your ass off and accomplishing a goal knowing that you earned it. Before my crew went on Americas Best Dance Crew, we worked HARD. We practiced in basements and anywhere we could for hours and hours and hours to be as great as we could be possibly be. As the “crew leader” there was a point in time where I taught free dance classes at a dance studio in return for our crew to rehearse for free. I was working a job every single day while trying to be a performer so many times, I’d leave on my lunch break to perform with an artist on a school tour. Sometimes, I’d get back to work super late. I’d pretend to be sick to get off work for shows and rehearsals. I recall once working for a place I really liked and there were dance auditions for Stevie Wonder. My supervisor wouldn’t let me off so I made the split decision to quit my job….leave work right then…and go to the auditions. Sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve what you desire, it won’t be easy but nothing worth having comes easy.”

Follow Tristan on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/_TristanAndrews

Julia Ivy Chavis

Julia Ivy Chavis

“Other than injuries? Because I have endured a lot of those! But, the biggest thing I would say is dealing w the stigma that all dancers are tall and petite. I’m not super short or even large but the fact that I’m not the stereotypical size takes people back. I think the size of a dancer also plays a role in the style we end up choosing. Although I’ve been trained in everything I could never choose to pursue ballet as my main genre. I’ve always had to not settle but settle for a career in the modern and contemporary world of dance.”

Follow Julia on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/lamour_me

Cheyenne Baker

Cheyenne Baker

“Ok, Im gonna say I had to endure my mothers passing. I believe any artist has to go through something to be great. Without pain or experience it makes your work hard to relate to. I’ve always been a good dancer but now I have more passion behind my movement and that’s what people look for in dancers. They want to feel it opposed to just watching. Life is short and that’s something I experienced first hand with my mom passing.”

Follow Cheyenne on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/danceadikt

Misty Copeland

“I experienced feeling alone a lot being the only African American woman in American Ballet Theatre for over a decade I took that opportunity to research the history of black ballerinas. It helped me understand my place in the ballet world. I used that as fuel to create a platform and speak on diversity. I still experience criticism for speaking about race but I know that the message is important and necessary for the next generation and for ballet to be represented on a broader stage. “

Misty Copeland, Soloist with American Ballet Theatre, is an NY Times best seller and has recently made the cover of Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people.

Follow Misty on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/mistyonpointe


Olivia Winston

“In spite of the opportunities that we have been able to give her, as a dancer of color, there is always self-doubt. She has often asked me if she works her hardest and is promoted, will she still not reach her goal to be a principal dancer…will she still not get roles because she is black? How do I even begin to try to answer her?

My husband and I are both white {both of our children are adopted} and we live in Salt Lake City, UT. Olivia trains at a top ballet school that is a part of a fairly diverse  professional company, but at the end of the day, we all worry that she, like others before her, will be judged by the color of her skin, rather than her hard work, technique, and artistry. That worry is big enough without the financial burden on top of it all.”

– Beckie Winston

Olivia is attending American Ballet Theatre in NYC for the summer of 2015

Follow Olivia’s story on Instagram : http://instagram.com/LULU_LIVVIE_BALLET


Lauren Anderson

“This is going to sound cheesy…

Decades of classes, years of performances, hours of rehearsals, minutes of sacrifice and a lifetime of joy!!!!”

Lauren Anderson is currently an instructor at Houston Ballet, In 1990, she was the first African American ballerina to become a principal for a major dance company, an important milestone in American ballet.

Yannick Lebrun

I’m originally from French Guiana. An overseas French Department located in South America. This is where I started taking my first ballet, jazz, modern dance classes when I was 9 years old. In this very small dance studio called ADACLAM I didn’t really have any other boys taking class with me, I had to believe that my passion for dance was the right choice for me. So moving to America at 17 in 2004 was not an easy task but I was ready for the challenge. Joining the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was my main goal. I was a fellowship student at the Ailey School for 2 years then joined Ailey 2 in 2006. In 2008 I finally became a member of the AAADT.

What has been difficult both in the past and now is to be detached from my family, friends and culture.
Coming to New York city I had to stayvery focused and disciplined, attend all my classes. I remember waking up every morning telling myself that ” doing your best might not be enough Yannick, you have to push yourself and work even harder than that talented guy standing right next to you”.

Yannick Lebrun is currently a dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance theater.

Follow Yannick on Instagram at http://instagram.com/yannicklebrun

Alison Stroming

Alison Stroming

“Growing up I was never confident with myself and dancing. Training at an elite ballet school like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre where all of my classmates were so talented, it was hard for me not to compare myself to others. My teachers would push me very hard but I was always shy and scared of being judged. Over time I’ve realized there is a lot you can’t control. There will always be someone with a bigger jump, prettier feet or legs, but it’s important not to worry about what is out of your control and just work hard on becoming the best dancer you can be.”

Alison Stroming was adopted from Recife, Brazil at the age of eight months and started dancing when she was three years old. She was accepted to The School of American Ballet where she began her formal ballet training at the age of nine. Alison Stroming is currently a dancer with The Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Follow Alison on Instrgram at  http://Instagram.com/AlisonStroming_

Ingrid Silva

Ingrid Silva

“Dealing with the politics of being in a dance company. Although I love what I do, I’m not as financially stable as I would like to be. Also my mom has never seen me dance, due to Visa issues, so I wish she could see me perform. Any time I perform on stage I remember that she could be watching me.”

Follow Ingrid on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/IngridSilva

James B Whiteside
James B Whiteside

James B. Whiteside

“In order to reach this level of success in the dance world, I had to know my strengths and my weaknesses. If you don’t understand what you need to work on, how can you improve in those areas? I found myself studying the dancers around me, asking myself “why does it look so much better on them?” In learning my weaknesses, I was able to turn them around and in some cases, make them my strengths. Patience and intelligence are vital when striving for greatness in the arts. Don’t get down on yourself, and remember, like that famous Twilight Zone episode, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!”

James Whiteside is a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre

Follow James on Instagranm at http://instagram.com/jamesbwhiteside

Also visit James’ website at http://jameswhiteside.org

image shot by Karolina Kuras
image shot by Karolina Kuras

“As a young aspiring dancer it was hard for me to feel fully comfortable in my own skin, in and out of the studio, and that caused a lot of inner struggle. I had to find myself in all the voices and stay strong to who I was. I had to face my own truth and live in my own skin. During that time, I was told by perfect strangers what was best for me. I had been given, “try this” and “reconsider that” speeches. I had been pushed in directions that left me lost and confused. I decided to follow my own heart and mind, this gave me a new perspective on how I saw myself. I am living for me and making personal lefts and rights, where I see fit. No one could’ve known where life would bring me, but I always had an idea of where I wanted to be. I’m not where I want to be but I am happy with where I stand. My choices, my direction, and defined solely by me. Soaking up every experience and learning from everyone who has passed through. I can say, I am happy with me. I am happy with who I am becoming. I am excited about my future and I’m living to be the truest me possible.
Don’t try to change the world. Develop your self-awareness and self-esteem, and as you step through the world it will have no choice but to bend around you. Make your mark and make sure it’s made on your own terms, in and out of the studio.”

Anthony Javier Savoy is a Ballet dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem

Follow Anthony on Instagram at http://Instagram.com/sincerelyjavier

Also visit Anthony’s website at www.AnthonySavoy.com


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